MITT Romney didn't seal the deal with his showing on Super Tuesday, but that likelihood was a long shot at best given the 10 states in play and the way they assign delegates. Romney clearly was the overall winner and remains the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
In Oklahoma, where Romney invested little effort, he won 28 percent of the vote and finished second to Rick Santorum, who visited the state twice in the weeks leading up to the election. The result was not a surprise. In Oklahoma, Romney had consistently trailed Santorum (and prior to that, other GOP candidates who are now out of the race), and Santorum's cultural conservatism is popular with many Oklahoma Republicans.
With 14 delegates, however, Santorum picked up only one more than Romney and third-place finisher Newt Gingrich. This race is about securing the 1,144 delegates needed to gain the GOP nomination, and Romney remains in the best position to do that after Tuesday.
Romney won at least 212 delegates Tuesday — 419 were at stake — leaving him with 415 overall (including endorsements from Republican National Committee members who can support any candidate). Santorum has 176 delegates, Gingrich 105 and Ron Paul 47.
Romney's biggest win came in Ohio, where he trailed Santorum a few days earlier but was able to eke out a one-point victory. He also won Alaska, Idaho, Vermont, Virginia and Massachusetts. Santorum won in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota, while Gingrich as expected won in his home state of Georgia.
Republican strategist Karl Rove said Romney “won the most contests, he won the most delegates and he got the most votes,” but that party rules — primaries with a large number of states that aren't winner-take-all — will dictate a long slog to the finish. Another member of the Republican Party, former New York Gov. George Pataki, wishes that weren't the case.
Pataki endorsed Romney on Wednesday and said others should, too. “He showed last night he has the breadth of support that warrants our supporting him and rallying around him,” Pataki said on Fox News. “It's time to focus on the greater good, and the greater good is turning our sights on winning the general election and defeating President Obama. We cannot let this continue into August.”
Hear hear! But that's not likely to happen, because neither Santorum nor Gingrich nor Paul has any plans to move aside. The drive continues Saturday with Republican caucuses in Kansas, followed next week by primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.
Romney, for his part, isn't concerned that the process might hurt his chances in November. “A day is like a lifetime in politics,” he said Tuesday night in Boston. “We have plenty of time to talk about the real issues.”
Spoken like a front-runner, which Romney remains after a good Super Tuesday showing.